UGA Tifton researches to develop pecan trees of the future
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - With everchanging weather conditions and seasons, farmers and agriculturists are looking for the future to make more and more resilient flora. WALB’s Jim Wallace sat down with a University of Georgia professor to learn more about how research is helping to create stronger pecan trees.
Lenny Wells is a horticulture professor from the University of Georgia’s Tifton campus. He’s currently working on a very important research project with a number of other Georgia researchers. It’s basically developing climate-adapted pecan trees and the trees of the future.
“Where we’re kind of systematically using pecan genetics and management practices to breed and develop pecans for climatic adaptation,” Wells said. “Things like water efficiency, drought resistance, disease resistance and soil salinity. And we’re going to use some of that to look for genetic markers that help control things in the tree like flowering nut size, the chemistry of the kernel, the structure and growth of the tree.“
One of the things you’re specialized in again is called hedge pruning. Most people think the bigger the tree the better.
“Yeah, we got a lot of big pecan trees in Georgia that can be good but cannot. It can also be a problem. The bigger they get, the more difficult they get to manage and some of the issues that we have like the alternate bearing problem with pecans gets a lot worse as the trees get bigger and older. So with hedge pruning, what you do is you’re you go down and cut all the sides off the tree a certain distance away from the trunk all the way down the tree row, and then you take the top off the tree and you’re reducing the size of that tree, making it more compact. That’s got a lot of benefits. You get larger nut size, better kernel quality. You get better water efficiency, and the big thing from that is that you reduce the the wind damage that you get from from storms that come through,” Wells said.
And that’s important for hunger. I mean, world hunger with better nuts. Pecans are obviously good nutrition.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of nutritional benefits to pecans. They’re they’re loaded with antioxidants. A lot of vitamins, minerals that are heart healthy. So there’s a lot of health benefits to pecans,” Wells said.
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